How to Set Goals that You Can Actually Achieve: 5 Easy Steps

For many of us, New Year's Resolutions are still in the forefront of our brains. January means a fresh start, but goals don't need to be limited to the new year. You can set a goal any time. The trick, however, is setting a goal that you can actually achieve. Too many of use set goals that are forgotten about or deemed impossible within a matter of weeks.


The picture below shows the 10 most common New Year's resolutions. They all have one thing in common: they are vague. It is important to set yourself up for success. A strong goal should be attainable, specific, and measurable. It must be a NEED rather than a desire. Pick something you are passionate about! 

How to set goals you can actually achieve: 5 easy steps

1. Make your goal attainable:

Pick something you can actually do within a reasonable amount of time. Stay away from things like "travel the world" or "go to the gym every day." These goals will set you up for failure. Take the second one for example - if you miss one day out of 365, you have failed to accomplish your goal! Remember, it's okay to start small and allow your goal to grow with you. For example, I have always struggled to drink enough water; I often found myself drinking less than 16 ounces a day. I set my first goal: drink 32 ounces a day. After I successfully achieved that goal for a few weeks in a row, I added 8 ounces to my goal. Had I set my original goal too high, I would have felt defeated and ultimately failed. 

How to set goals you can actually achieve: 5 easy steps

2. Make your goal specific: 

Avoid vague goals like "save money," "exercise," or "spend time with family." Without clear expectations, it is impossible to know when you have reached your goal. Attach a number to your goal and give yourself daily or weekly tasks. Instead try "save $X a month," "work out three times a week," or "have dinner together once a week." 


3. Make your goal measurable:

We like to see change. It is important to know where you are starting so that you can see the process. When we are exposed to something daily, it can be difficult to see small changes. Track your progress. If your goal is weight loss, take before pictures. If your goal is to drink more water, note how much you are currently drinking each day. Every few weeks, track how far you have come. 


4. Develop a specific plan of action: 

Create a plan and hold yourself accountable. Set mini goals. What do you need to do each day to be successful? What do you need to do each week? I like to do this by looking at my large goal and working backward. For example, if you want to lose 20 pounds, the first step is to pick a realistic end date. If you plan to lose 1-2 pounds a month, you can figure out how long it will take to achieve your final goal. These weekly mini-goals will help keep you on track and assist you in attaining your end goal. Another great option is to use a planner. My planner has a goal tracking section at the beginning of each month. I can write my goal on a line and color in a square for every day that I have accomplished my task. Purchase a planner that offers a similar option or make a quick printable chart and place it somewhere easily accessible. 


5. Reward yourself for your accomplishments:

From a young age, we are taught to appreciate and work for extrinsic motivation. As children, we received stickers for good work or good behavior. As adults, this system still works. We like prizes! The trick is to select a prize that will motivate you and keep you on track. Set mini goals or benchmarks and assign each a prize. If your goal is to workout a certain number of times per week, allow yourself a new workout outfit after the first month. If your goal is to increase your water intake, a fancy new water bottle might give you a push. 

How to set goals you can actually achieve: 5 easy steps

Most importantly, be gentle with yourself. Every day is a new day. It's okay to make mistakes. If you don't hit your goal one day, don't give up. Be better tomorrow. Growth and change take time. 


Please share one of your goals in the comments. I'd love to hear what you are working on and encourage you!

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How to set goals that you can actually achieve: 5 easy steps